A Forest Park-based advocacy group dedicated to serving people with disabilities protested Aug. 20 against a south suburban nursing home, unhappy with how residents at the home have been treated.

The Progress Center for Independent Living, which offers assistance to disabled individuals in suburban Cook County who wish to live on their own, claims that staff members at a Crestwood nursing home have been “intimidating” residents into staying longer than desired.

“When residents say they want to move, they say, ‘You’re better off staying here,'” said John Jansa, program director for the Progress Center, 7521 Madison St. “They don’t make things easy for the residents when they say they want to leave. They want to keep the beds filled.”

As a result, residents in the nursing home “start having doubts as to whether they really can move out,” Jansa said.

That’s why a handful of protestors – made up of staff members from the Progress Center, as well as its sister organizations, Access Living and Adapt – gathered outside the Crestwood Terrace nursing home, 13301 S. Central Ave., and called for the right to better educate residents about community living.

When reached by the Review before the protest, an administrator at the 126-bed nursing home said that he was unaware of the allegations put forth by the Progress Center. He said there were no problems found after the last visit from the Illinois Department of Public Health, and told a reporter he would call back to provide further details.

Follow-up phone calls to the nursing home were not immediately returned.

The dispute in Crestwood echoes a larger problem prevalent throughout nursing homes in the area, according to Vicki Suchovsky, home services coordinator for the Progress Center.

“It’s not just this facility,” she said. “The conditions of these nursing homes in this area are just deplorable. Generally speaking, it is a source of concern.”

The Progress Center has set out to become a source of support for the disabled community, whether it’s helping with medications, scheduling additional therapy or informing people about available state grants.

“We do not want to put someone out there into an apartment and say good luck,” Suchovsky said. “We want to make sure that the person is going to be successful.”